How to plan an epic destination wedding weekend
Gathering all of your favourite people together in one place is undeniably special so why not extend the wedding festivities into an entire weekend? Destination wedding weekends are increasingly popular, particularly with the rise of destination weddings and guests traveling long distances to celebrate with the bride and groom. It's great to make the most of your time together with a series of events and activities so you can spend quality time with your loved ones, and they get to experience the highlights of your carefully chosen location.
So how many events should you plan for your destination wedding weekend? While its temping to spoil your guests with lots of events and activities, its important not to overdo it and leave yourself (and your guests) feeling burnt out. The sweet spot tends to be three organised events, including a welcome party, the wedding itself, and a farewell gathering the following day. Then it's up to you whether you book activities or sightseeing trips or leave guests to explore as they wish. Read on for our top tips on planning an epic wedding weekend, without the burnout.
Host a welcome party
Whether you’re having an overseas destination wedding or simply have guests traveling in from out of town, hosting a welcome party is a chill, low-key way to greet everyone and get people into the festive mood. In addition to being able to personally greet your guests as they arrive, you'll also have a chance to introduce people who perhaps haven’t met before now.
It's personal choice whether you host a welcome party and/or rehearsal dinner, or combine both for a two-in-one event. The main factor to keep in mind is to keep the event pretty low key as you don't want everyone overdoing it on the alcohol and feeling too hungover to enjoy the wedding the next day, especially those in the bridal party! So consider a late afternoon or early evening gathering so you can still get a good nights sleep and awake feeling refreshed on your wedding morning.
Plan some local activities
When attending a destination wedding, most guests will want to make the most of the trip and explore the local area during any free time before or after the wedding itself. If your wedding is during peak season in a tourist hotspot like the Amalfi Coast, for example, you may wish to book activities and sightseeing tours in advance so your guests don't miss out. Your destination wedding planner will be able to suggest ideas to take in local area, such as visiting the medieval villages and lavender fields of Provence; or taking an Italian cooking class or boat tour in Lake Como.
However, it's important to think about the kind of travellers they are and whether they will appreciate a planned itinerary or find it too rigid and prefer to explore at their leisure instead. In this case, you could include a list of suggested activities and booking details with the wedding invitation, so guests can opt in or out and book independently if they wish. It's a good idea to include other useful information with the invitation or waiting at the hotel on their arrival, such as a schedule of events, local taxi numbers and wedding party contact numbers. A wedding welcome basket is always a nice touch too.
Host a farewell brunch
A post-wedding brunch is a great way to extend the celebration and spend extra time with your guests before they head home. It's an especially nice treat for out-of towner attendees or for those who are staying in the hotel with the rest of the wedding party. And if your accommodation has a pool, surely a post-wedding pool party is mandatory?!
Luckily, the etiquette for a post-wedding brunch (commonly referred to as a farewell brunch) is a bit more relaxed than the actual wedding itself and there's no rules on the dress code, menu or whether invitations are required. You can make it as relaxed or formal as you wish.
Typically, most wedding brunches begin at 11am and last for a couple of hours, allowing guests to stop in at their leisure. When planning your brunch menu, it makes sense to look to local cuisine for inspiration and focus on help-yourself food if you're expecting guests to drop by at different times.
If you'd like to offer hot food, consider omelet or crepe station, or a bagel bar. Be sure to offer coffee and juice for much-needed morning after caffeine and hydration, and consider a mimosa bar or Bloody Mary bar for those who want to continue the party.